There are so many things that we human beings would like to do – from travelling the world to reading the latest Man Booker Prize novel, to attending a famous opera, to seeing the latest film, to attending a seminar on the latest fads in self-help, perhaps even attending a well-qualified psychotherapist or counsellor or writing a powerful novel, even a fairly tame one might do, provided, of course, that it was published. We human beings are complex creatures, or at least creatures who like to consider themselves complex. There simply is no satisfying our desires. St Augustine of Hippo called man, and I use man in its generic sense here (perhaps I should have said “humankind” and in that way I should be far more politically correct? - I’ve a nasty habit of interrupting myself, so on with the main clause), “a restless seeker.” Needless to say, the old Saint saw such restlessness as an innate spiritual desire within man for the source of truth – namely God. If you’re into 4th or 5th century theology or are in any way a Platonist then you’d find this very consoling no doubt. I think that there is a certain truth in his contention. A site worth perusing on this old Saint and brilliant medieval philosopher is http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/augustine.html St Augustine’s dates are 354-430 AD, so he straddled the fourth and fifth centuries.
Anyway, lest this become a very rambling post, let me get to a point in all this. Note I say “a” point rather than “the” point. I’m trying to keep my musings as objective as I possibly can. I suppose as the year is coming to an end I am beset with many existential concerns, large on a personal level, but miniscule on a universal one. Like most modern 21st century beings who are in their fifth decade of life, I am trying to review the direction my life has taken me in. I’ll be 48th on the 5th of January 2006. Questions that concentrate my mind are the following in no set order of importance: (i) Am I really happy at my job? (ii) Do I need the stimulus of another one? (iii) I need a woman in my life – certainly a confidante to share my concerns with as well as the more creaturely pleasures (iv) where can I get my second book published? I’ve already written one on meditation and it was published in 2002. If you’re interested in reading about this book click here: http://www.veritas.ie/veritas/asp/section.asp?s=49 (v) Should I not take a career break for further study? If so what field would I be really happy in? I have studied in diverse areas from Maths, Irish, English, Philosophy, Theology, Education and History to French and Italian. Of late, I have specialised mostly in Irish and can speak and write in it equally as well as English. As you will see from the introductory words to this site the present blog is a hodge podge of English and Irish entries. It appears to me that this is essentially confusing to any would-be reader. Therefore, should I not set up a separate blog in Irish? Good thinking, but do I really have the time to do that? (vi) Should I apply to TCD and do the teacher fellowship, which I was offered many years ago and didn’t take up? It only lasts for one term anyway, and I can afford to be without salary for four months anyway. Perhaps the Department of Education and Science would allow me to keep my salary and pay a substitute out of it? (vii) Maybe I should consider moving school or even consider changing subject areas? (viii) Should I complete my studies and personal development in the counselling/psychotherapy area? I have decided to attend a counsellor who needs clients to finish her M.Sc. in psychotherapy – I feel I’ll learn more about myself by so doing. (ix) Am I fundamentally fulfilled and happy in myself? I think so, at least for the most part, but I suspect that I’m not completely fulfilled. Is any human being ever? So, the abiding question is (x) where from here? As I say on a universal level these are small questions – small meat indeed. Set beside last year's St Stephen’s Day Tsunami disaster, the earthquake in Pakistan a few months back and the global poisoning of our planet by carbon dioxide emissions, these personal concerns pale into insignificance. Those larger universal questions must remain for another day’s concerns. Suffice it to say, that I’m fleeing away on a holiday. My brother Pat and I are heading down to Sicily on Thursday 29th December and will be returning on Thursday 5th January, my birthday. So, we’ll be spending New Year in Palermo and we’ll toast all beings of good will everywhere from the central Piazza. I feel oh so selfish, but that’s how it is – just one more existential concern to worry about and to add to that interminable list! The picture I have included at the centre top of this post is one I took some months back of a quaint old house behind some trees in Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin. Somewhere like this should be a wonderful place to escape to and meditate - perhaps even alleviate those personal existential concerns! But, maybe ther is no escaping? I think probably not!